OP-ED Proposed Knife Bans – A Blunt Tool Against Youth Crime
8 November 2023
Draft laws are expected to be introduced into the Queensland Parliament before the end of the year that will seek to ban the sale of knives, replica firearms, gel blasters and other bladed items to minors.
The proposed new laws stem from a spate of serious knife related offences in the south-east including the tragic stabbing deaths of Jack Beasley in 2019 and Balin Stewart in 2022. Jack’s Law was legislated earlier this year and included a two-year trial giving Queensland Police the power to detect people carrying knives in public places such as safe night precincts and public transport vehicles and hubs.
The draft legislation has been labelled a step in the right direction by youth crime advocates in the south-east but without taking anything away from those who have heavily campaigned for these changes, I am doubtful that this is going to have any impact at all on curbing youth crime here in the north.
While the intention behind such measures is undoubtedly well-meaning, it must be remembered that violent young offenders do not play by the same rule book as the majority of society. It isn’t the knife that is the problem, it’s the person in possession of it.
This ban culture sweeping our society is doing more harm than good. Failing to deal with the source of the problem only creates issues in other ways. To truly address the issue of youth crime, we must focus on the root causes, such as the socioeconomic factors, disengagement from education and the absence of positive role models and a stable family home and upbringing. Simply banning knives does not address these deeply embedded issues.
The State Government is severely detached from reality if they believe child offenders, who are capable of committing heinous and violent crimes against others using knives, would acquire a knife using traditional methods such as purchasing one from a store.
Banning the sale of knives is not going to make the streets or homes of Townsville, Cairns and Mount Isa any safer. This is nothing more than a tokenistic gesture that will leave retailers to do the heavy lifting as well as the policing of the new laws when and if they come into effect.
Country kids are brought up knowing a knife is a tool, whether it lives in their tackle box or it’s a pocketknife hanging off their belt. This metropolitan knife culture in the south-east will not be fixed by simply banning the sale of knives to juveniles across the state.